1. Experienced Staff
Whether it’s the top tier of the Secretariat, or a crisis staffer working in the backroom, the quality of staffing at any conference matters. The greatest conferences have standards when it comes to staff recruitment. To be a chair, understanding what it is like to be a delegate is vital. Chairs need to know parliamentary procedure better than every delegate in the committee. At far too many conferences, the opposite is true. A chair who has never attended a Model UN conference before sets up the committee for failure. Do better.
2. A Killer Venue
Some conferences take place at chain hotels with malfunctioning elevators and no tables in committee rooms. In certain cases, these circumstances are a necessary evil in order to ensure affordability. That being said, some conferences stand out among the rest for choosing a venue that turns a conference into an unforgettable experience. YMGE, Yale’s European Model UN conference, took place at an actual palace in Portugal for the 2019-2020 season. Hotels such as the Boston Park Plaza or the historic Washington Hilton have been some of the most distinguished conference venues in the Northeastern Circuit. Some conferences take place at the actual United Nations headquarters in New York City.
3. Background Guides That Make Sense
Chairs have a lot of responsibilities to go about, but among the most high-stakes is topic selection.
The quality of the background guide is intrinsically linked to the quality of the committee.
It doesn’t matter if the background guide has fancy graphics or a bibliography longer than a closing speech. What matters is whether the background guide narrows down the topic to the point where there can be meaningful debate and questions such as “when is the committee starting, historically?” or “what are the goals of this committee?” are answered.
4. A Well-Planned Delegate Dance
Obviously, you are not one of those people that goes to Model UN conferences just for the chance to break the dance floor with Drake’s latest single. However, it is always nice to wind down and relax in an activity that won’t determine whether you’ll get an award. The very best conferences stand out for having a good DJ, lights off, and plenty of snacks to go about. In addition, the delegate dance is a fantastic way to build community: when delegates are having fun at a conference, they are more likely to engage meaningfully in committee. Ergo, when a conference invests in a quality delegate dance, it invests in heightened participation from all delegates in attendance.
5. Cool Merch
Nothing says that you like to spend your weekends fixing the world’s problems with strangers like Model UN conference merch. The best conferences boost their revenue by selling t-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, water bottles, stickers, and more.
6. Joint Crisis Committees
A conference doesn’t necessarily need a joint crisis committee (JCC) to be great, but chances are, if a conference is great, it has a JCC. JCCs have grown in popularity and complexity steadily in recent years. Lately, conferences have incorporated JCCs with more than two committees. Most notoriously, Georgetown’s NAIMUN has the National Security Apparatus, a 5-way JCC and Yale’s YMGE has the ‘EU Cabinets,’ a 12-way JCC. This kind of complexity and innovation in committee offerings is what makes a conference stand out.
What’s even better than cool merch? Freebies! Freebies are AWESOME. The usual ‘delegate package’ includes a folder and a pen that doesn’t work. If you’re lucky, you may get a notepad. However, some conferences have gone out of their way to provide delegates with leather padfolios with the conference logo, legal pads, laminated placards, and water bottles.
8. Delegates From All Over The World
Nothing says that a conference has ‘made it’ like attracting delegates from the most remote corners of the globe. For the average Model UN nerd, it’s a thoroughly exciting experience to debate with people who have different perspectives and backgrounds. Conferences with these delegates are a great opportunity to make friends from around the world. Few conferences have managed to attract delegates from every continent.
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